judge strikes down Florida's gay marriage ban, stays ruling
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[August 22, 2014]
By Letitia Stein
TAMPA Fla. (Reuters) - A federal judge in
north Florida on Thursday struck down the state's gay marriage ban as
unconstitutional, but stayed the ruling, leaving same-sex couples still
unable to marry in the state.
U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle of Florida's Northern
District in Tallahassee is the fifth judge in the state to rule
against a same-sex marriage ban approved by voters in 2008, but the
first federal judge to do so.
"The institution of marriage survived when bans on interracial
marriage were struck down, and the institution will survive when
bans on same-sex marriage are struck down," Hinkle wrote. "Liberty,
tolerance, and respect are not zero-sum concepts," he added.
Hinkle found the same-sex marriage ban violated equal protection and
due process protections under the U.S. Constitution.
The ruling addressed two lawsuits involving 10 same-sex couples,
mostly married in other states and seeking recognition in Florida.
The plaintiffs also included a woman, Arlene Goldberg, whose wife
had recently passed away.
In an exception to the stay, the judge ordered the death certificate
for Goldberg's wife to be corrected to reflect her marriage to her
partner of 47 years.
"There is no good reason to further deny Ms. Goldberg the simple
human dignity of being listed on her spouse’s death certificate,"
While stayed, Thursday's federal court ruling applies more broadly
than previous rulings in state courts with limited jurisdiction in
several south Florida counties, said Stephen Rosenthal, lead
attorney in the case involving the American Civil Liberties Union of
Florida and SAVE, a gay-rights organization in South Florida.
The federal court ruling should speed up the process of bringing
Florida's cases to the U.S. Supreme Court, added David Weinstein, a
former state prosecutor in Miami now in private practice.
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Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi appealed the earlier rulings,
arguing the issue should be decided by the Supreme Court. A
spokeswoman said Bondi is reviewing Thursday's ruling.
In all cases, marriage for same-sex couples in Florida remains on
Since a June 2013 Supreme Court ruling struck down a federal law
defining marriage as between one man and one woman, nearly 30
federal and state courts have ruled against state bans on same-sex
The Supreme Court is expected to take up the issue in its coming
term, which starts in October and ends in June. It will likely be
the most momentous civil rights case in years.
(Additional reporting by David Adams and Bill Cotterell; Editing by
David Adams, Eric Beech and Eric Walsh)
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